Christmas Shows And Definitive Documentaries

December 4th, 2018

In case you didn’t realise it was holiday season, Brian Wilson’s Christmas Shows have started. To be fair, the latest round of touring has seen a mixed reception, but this review  captures why the new shows are still special.

In addition, we have news of a “definitive” Brian Wilson documentary now in the works. It does look interesting -and one hopes will increase awareness of the great American pop genius.

Everything But The Brian VII: Cuddle Up

November 28th, 2018

The ultimate romantic Beach Boys song from the Carl and the Passions-So Tough set sees Dennis Wilson creating five minutes of romantic bliss, including “wall of sound” harmonies and orchestra that showcase Dennis’s ability to create a mood was different, but often just as effective, as Brian’s.

Dennis was in prime composing form in the first few years of the 70s, and this is up with his best, even it does take a few listens to appreciate its true beauty.

50 Years, 30 Directions

November 22nd, 2018

Almost eighteen months after Sgt.Pepper ( a gap longer than Pet Sounds to Smiley Smile), the Beatles released their next album, simply called The Beatles, in plane white packaging. It was the single biggest outburst of new Beatles music; 30 unheard tracks, none released on a prior single or available for early listening on Spotify…

The title and white packaging may indicate a move towards simplicity and group harmony. There was certainly a move away from the psychedelia of 1967, but in about 30 different directions. We got the softest side of the Beatles (Goodnight, Honey Pie) at the same time as the hardest (Helter Skelter, Yer Blues), the weirdest (Revolution 9) alongside straightforward rock and pop. It’s unlikely you will love all 30 tracks, or even want to listen to some of them again, but it’s also very possible that some of your favorite Beatles songs, if not your favorite songs of all time, are part of this album.

And now the White Album is exactly 50 years old, and tearing up the charts again,courtesy of a comprehensive 50 year anniversary release, showcasing the legendary Esher demos plus a lot more on the deluxe editions. The Esher demos demonstrate that John, Paul and George were not short of inspiration after Rishikesh. George, in particular, was starting entering his composing high-point, where one song per side of a Beatles record would not accommodate his brilliant creativity –Long Long Long is probably my favorite “unknown” Beatles song.

Indeed, the White Album sessions in retrospect indicated the beginning of the end for the Beatles as a group, and the white color is pretty much the only unifying theme of the album. The brilliance is very much there, but there is a sense of disunity and division, which is very much a theme of our 2018 world. We can’t run away from this reality, but we can temporarily forget about it in the brilliance of this album, or at least the parts that reflect our own musical idyll.

23 Songs For Today

November 16th, 2018
  1. Under -Carla Werner
  2. Sweet Ride -Courtney Jaye
  3. Strawberry Wine -Deana Carter
  4. This Land Is Mine -Dido
  5. Hold Me Like a Gun -Elise Davis
  6. Dreaming Trees -Emma Stevens
  7. Oh Do Not Fly Away -The Innocence Mission
  8. In Perfect Time -Jill Barber
  9. Bo Ba Bo -Joanna Wallfisch
  10. Love Is a Wild Thing- Kacey Musgraves
  11. You’re Not Mine -The Last Detail
  12. Everywhere I Go -Lissie
  13. Going Home -Mary Fahl
  14. Lying To The Moon -Matraca Berg
  15. Wrong Impression -Natalie Imbruglia
  16. The Way It Is -Nicole Atkins
  17. Manhattan -Sara Bareilles
  18. I Could Not Ask for More -Sara Evans
  19. Starry Eyes -Sarah Darling
  20. Sounds of Water/ Change Your Mind -Sarah Slean
  21. I Know Myself Too Well -Swan Dive
  22. You On My Mind- Swing Out Sister
  23. Snow Canyons -The Watson Twins

First Blood

November 10th, 2018

Yesterday saw the 50th anniversary re-release of the White Album, and there will be more on that on this blog in due course.  But another classic album has just given the “official bootleg” treatment, and it is my favorite Dylan album Blood On The Tracks.

More Blood, More Tracks may sound like a death metal record, but the heart of the collection is a disc of early takes of the entire album plus Up To Me, which reflects a stripped down alternative version of the classic album. Blood On The Tracks was always a fairly acoustic album, but this alternative version is more like Blood On The Tracks..naked, with just Dylan, his guitar and harmonica.

The anger of Idiot Wind is replaced by a more world-weary resignation, but the album shows that the song were fully-formed and brilliant from the start, with an interesting twist to the track order, including a strong finish with Idiot Wind, You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go and Up To Me, with the final track providing a more a downbeat finish than the slightly more optimistic Buckets Of Rain. The original album is in my views Dylan’s most “perfect” album, but this is a very interesting alternative take on one of the all-time classic records.

Eddy, Back At Last (Detail)

November 4th, 2018

In the first half of the naughties, A Girl Called Eddy (Erin Moran) delighted with us with her eponymous debut album,  plus a few EPs and singles. Then, for 10 years, nothing. In 2014, there were a few guest vocals on a Gramercy Arms album, and the first rumblings of a follow-up album. But nothing concrete until this year- and specifically the release of The Last Detail album.

The Last Detail is Erin Moran and Mehdi Zannad from Fugu. It is a collaborative album, but on Fun Fair, You’re Not Mine, Fairweather Friend, Talk To Me and Lazy, it feels like a reunion with an old, dear friend that you haven’t seen for almost 15 years. The romantic, world-weary vocals accompanied with breathtaking melodies are all there, and that alone is worth the price of admission. But the contributions from the other half of the band are also noteworthy, especially the gorgeous pop tunes Places and Trust Your Buddy. The final track, Photographs, is a fitting seasonal closer, and the only real duet on a great album.

But…that isn’t all. Eddy is now promising her second solo album early in 2019, a few months after this wonderful release. It’s not so much London buses, but it feels like a long-lost, beloved railway branch line now has a full service of regular trains. Thank-you A Girl Called Eddy (and Mehdi Zannad), for making a weary world suddenly a better place.

Mash On The Road

November 1st, 2018

With Brian back on the road, and Halloween having just passed, here is a very appropriate clip (from 2009, so featuring the Taylor Mills, Jeff Foskett and Scott Bennett)

On The Road Again And Again

October 27th, 2018

Tonight marks the start of Brian’s year-end touring; an extravaganza of 11 Pet Sounds shows, 7 Greatest Hits shows and 17 Christmas dates. To look it another way, Brian will spend more nights for the rest of 2018 doing tour dates, rather than having the evening to himself. So as the rest of us start to think about the end of the year, good luck to Brian Wilson and his band for the busy touring schedule.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLXVII: No-Go Showboat

October 21st, 2018

For our next “hidden booty”, we’ll go back to the early days of the Beach Boys and a track from the Little Deuce Coupe album.  No Go Showboat  is a dazzling example of the bands brilliant harmonies, and creating an atmospheric track about a pretty car that won’t really go very fast. The Timers released a single with this song, but it never made it anywhere in the charts -however it remains another great example of Brian’s musical development even in the early 60s.

Everything But The Brian VI: You Are So Beautiful

October 15th, 2018

As a concert staple for Beach Boys shows from 1975 to 1983, You Are So Beautiful would qualify for inclusion in our series of non-Brian Beach Boys songs. But this wedding standard has an even more important Beach Boys connection – the persistent if unproven view that  Dennis Wilson is a co-writer of the song.  It is certainly no stretch to believe that the writer of Forever and Thoughts Of You could at least be partially involved in the familiar melody, and also not much stretch to believe that Dennis would not pursue a co-writing credit. We will probably never know the truth, but most Beach Boys fans will claim this song as one of their own, and a song with a direct Wilson touch.